Sunday, February 26, 2012

Taiwan Tea Workshop in San Jose (20120218 with TAP-SF)

We had one successful tea event that hosted by TAP-SF in San Jose Taiwan Center followed by another workshop in Cal Campus back on April 2010. The new culture event chair of TAP-SF, Angela Hsueh called us to schedule for another one... Here we come.
Before the event, we were told there are 70 people RSVP for this tea workshop. By the time the workshop began... we had over 120 tea lovers seated in the room. Amazingly, a few friends actually are repeaters and they also have their friends tagged along. Lucky that we did prepare this workshop a bit different from the previous one. With a better display, a tasting list and also a Taiwan tea map...which seem to work much better for our tea tasting. Josephine did share some nice pictures from our Taiwan Oolongs Study Tour program, so many of these Taiwanese American Professionals might visit some tea gardens in Taiwan on their next trip to visit their parents' motherland.
One bonus for this trip to San Jose, we got chance to visit The Mountain Winery in Saratoga. We enjoy that place very much, and believe it could be a good model one day Taiwan can develop a similar tea tasting facility in the tea estate with similar concept - such as: outdoor theater for summer concerts...restaurants for wedding banquets...We did our wines tasting there, and purchased a few bottles of Merlot.

Here is one link to a blog post from Ms. Grace Hwang Lynch on HAPAMAMA.COM

Tea time in 2012 TUF Retreat (20120211 @ Azusa Mountain Cove)

Josephine is serving as the current president of TUF (Taiwanese United Fund) and she proposed to have a Taiwan Tea Tasting during the break of their Board Members' 2012 Retreat at Azusa Mountain Cove. I set 6 different Oolongs for them. I print a tasting list, so they can check the information with the actual samples on display. We have the cupping first with traditional cupping sets to cup each tea...and then we prepare the tea in pot to serve... Not only a wonderful tea time, we indeed have a great session as many questions and answers that could help me to improve my next workshop. Salute to TUF !

Friday, February 17, 2012

Indulge in Excellence - Taiwan Oolong

Friday afternoon, time to cup good tea in my "kitchen" !
Instead of having these fine teas by myself, I decide to set up the display to share with my tea friends on each tea I cupped this afternoon.

The first one, Wenshan Pouchong (sku#60436)

Pouchong, the esteemed
Famous for its exceptional captivating aroma; this tea demands the most superior skills in every step of processing. Pouchong is often used as gifts bestowed to elders and special friends.

This 60436 is a very good choice for Pouchong fans, reasonable price for the quality. The one we have in stock is 2011 winter crop. Limited stock.

Followed by Milk Oolong (sku#60459)

Jade Oolong, the classic
This naturally fragrant high mountain tea instantly captures tea drinkers’ love. After repeated withering, oxidation and wrapped-rolling, the pleasant aroma and delicate yet lasting flavor are sealed in the semi-balled, tightly rolled leaves. The Jade Oolong I selected is made from Jin Suang cultivar, one of our Yilan Charm - sku#60459, has a milk note in aroma, flavor also aftertaste. This is the special character of this cultivar, not to be flavored or scented by means. (*we noticed that some vendors might have milk oolong, which is scented...not the same case here.) Suggest you to try this one before our stock is gone...Planning to increase our purchase when Spring 2012 crop arrives...)

The next one is Amber Oolong (sku#80452)

Amber Oolong, the gongfu
The craftsmanship of baking Amber Oolong requires great effort and many years of practice. The toasty aroma with a natural sweet lingering finish can be enjoyed after many infusions. This tea is often used in traditional Gongfu tea ceremony.
The one here is made from Chinsin cultivar, baked by a senior tea master Mr. Wu in Datung, Yilan County - A Marvelous choice of our "Yilan Charm". Mr. Wu has stocked many super super great Aged Oolong of his own.

Here comes the Oriental Beauty (sku#20436)

Oriental Beauty, the exquisite
With the special visit by green leaf hoppers in early summer, Oriental Beauty delivers an exceptional fruity and elegant floral aroma with an intense, complex flavor followed by a rich honey and ripe peach aftertaste. This is truly the Champagne of teas, only from Taiwan.
To get a descent Oriental Beauty with affordable price is truly a challenge. The one I cupped today is our sku#20436. It might not have the beautiful leaf appearance, actually more naturally broken leaves to be found. B ut, hey I like its flavor and the price. *As you know genuine Oriental Beauty must have one sprout and two tender leaves remains intact for each piece... ) Come to 2012 WTE, we make sure you can taste the top of line...if TTMA would be so generous to offer us the sample to share with tea enthusiasts who visit our booths...

Next, the exciting Brandy Oolong Ruby 18 (sku#20605)

Brandy Oolong, the darling
Made from Taiwan’s unique cultivar, Brandy Oolong has been skillfully processed with indoor withering, high-oxidation and heavy rolling to bring out the rich notes of each cultivar. Ruby 18, FB 27, FB 74…to name a few which have become the modern classics for tea enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds. I am having Ruby 18 of Summer 2011, from Lungtan, Taoyuan County. This one is crafted by a young tea pro, William Huang. Amazingly nice with rich notes of cinnamon and peppermint, very round and smooth.
Salute to all for a great weekend...JP and I will be serving this tea for our TAP-SF group, who is to host a Taiwan Oolong workshop in San Jose on 2/18 (tomorrow).

The last, not the least though... Bliss Oolong (#35603)

Bliss Oolong, the harmony
This tea can be a result of blended with various estates, crops, batches, or types; or of scented or mixed with herbs and tisanes. Its flavor and aroma always brings bliss – a taste of harmony.
The one I got here is Bliss Oolong - Earl Grey (sku#35603). For those who enjoy Earl Grey, I would like to challenge you with this one. We use economical Jade Oolong to be rolled with Bergamot essence during the wrapped rolling process and seal the aroma and flavor in the tea, instead of spraying on the leaf's surface. Very enjoyable, hot or iced.
Take a closer look at the wet leaves - you will find that these leaves were machinery harvested at a lower altitude tea garden, and these teas are intend to be used for the value-added. We have worked with our vendors to use them as tea base for our Bliss Oolong. So far we have developed a few popular ones. Beside Earl Grey, there are: Sweet Olive, Jasmine, Magnolia, Pomegranate, Ginger Orange, American Ginseng. We hope you find your favorites...drink it pure, no sugar or milk...

Have a wonderful weekend to all.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Enjoying Micro-Green Tea 300 in my daily life

Recently, Josephine and I decided to make a good habit of having Micro-Green Tea every day. This is very different from the leaf teas we regularly enjoy, yet adding Micro-Green Tea to our routine gives us a good (and good tasting) opportunity to experience something new.

In our tea business, we are sometimes limited when talking about tea’s benefits, and we must avoid making health claims... but we can always talk about how good tea tastes! Perhaps, because tea is so familiar to us, we may take it for granted that most people already understand tea’s goodness and neglect to mention some of the latest scientific research on the benefits of “eating and drinking tea” which is prepared by whipping or shaking powdered green tea with water.

Here is a link to a simple slideshow which shows you how I prepare Micro-Green Tea at home...

Use a spoon to measure a little of the green tea powder into your cup. My own preference is one gram of powder to 450 ml of water. Add enough hot water to your cup to wet the powder and make a thick paste, then add more water -- can be hot, warm, or cold water, as desired -- and stir until it is the consistency you like. In my office, I use a bamboo tea scoop and whisk (traditional Japanese matcha ceremony utensils), rather than a spoon, for easier whipping of the tea powder and because it helps me to feel more centered in my mind; but the tea is just as delicious if you prepare it with a spoon.

I want to clear up a common tea myth: Not all green tea powder is “matcha”. Though our Micro-Green Tea 300 does look like Japanese matcha, and shares its consistency and quality, it is meant for daily drinking. The traditional Japanese matcha ceremony, as developed in the intricate and highly disciplined art of Chanoyu [抹茶道], is a different experience from preparing our Micro-Green Tea 300 as described above. You can enjoy powdered green tea simply, as we do every day.

While I was planning to introduce Micro-Green Tea 300, several things popped up:

1.) Why not just use matcha from Uji, Japan? One reason is cost -- I wanted to offer a powdered green tea that is economical enough for most people to enjoy whenever they want to... to have it as a simple daily ritual, not only for an elaborate ceremony. Another reason is that, deep in my heart, I want to promote steam-fired green tea from Taiwan with its unique cultivar -- Chinshin Dahpan [青心大冇] -- which I was often told by tea senbai (experts) is by far the best cultivar for making green tea. Combine that with the terroir of Taiwan, and the craftsmanship in manufacturing... I take great pride in introducing this fine product to tea lovers.

2.) Why name it Micro-Green Tea 300 ? Professionally, I know that this product should not be marketed as “matcha”, not only because its origin, also it is not made from shade-grown leaves, and not stone-ground from Tencha [碾茶] that specifically processed for the formal tea ceremony. We believe consumers deserve to know the difference. If I call it simply “Green Tea Powder” it sounds merely like a food ingredient, and this is much higher quality powdered green tea. So I thought, I’ll base the name on fact: we select superior steam-fired Taiwan green tea from an ISO 22000-certified tea factory; and we make sure the tea is cold-milled to a superfine "300-mesh” powder, which preserves the original quality from the tea leaves.

3.) Why show ourselves preparing this tea using Japanese matcha utensils? And why use only the scoop and whisk, but not a traditional bowl? How about using a modern, Western-style frother?... So many of our friends have raised these questions as we readied the tea and Starter Kit for sale. We believe that the scoop and whisk provide a wonderful consistency when preparing our Micro-Green Tea 300... but we want to encourage a simple, everyday preparation method so that you will enjoy this tea regularly, as we do... This is why our Starter Kit contains a stylish white porcelain tea caddy with air-tight lid, a bamboo scoop, a bamboo whisk, and a 50 gram (approx. 2-ounce) pouch of Micro-Green Tea 300. The tea can also be purchased separately, for people who already have their utensils. As for a bowl... please choose your personal favorite! (*Please see this short video that a friend of ours, decide to use red wine glass instead of matcha bowl to prepare and serve his Micro-Green Tea 300... )

We hope you will enjoy this simple, delicious way of preparing Micro-Green Tea 300, and that we can spread its popularity in American households, and even bring it into fine restaurants across the country.